Tábor Zoo to provide sanctuary for wild animals rescued from abuse in private ownership
The sad truth is that more wild animals are kept in private ownership in Czechia than in zoos – often illegally and in very poor conditions. Until now there has been a problem finding places to put animals that are rescued from such situations, but Tábor Zoo hopes a new enclosure it is building will provide the solution.
Tigers kept in cages that are too small for them with hardly enough space to turn around in, or pumas hungry and malnourished due to a lack of appropriate food – unfortunately, this is all too often the reality for large wild animals, very often big cats, that are kept by private breeders and owners in Czechia. Caring for such animals is not easy – in addition to the space required, there are huge sums needed for food, veterinary care and enclosures, not to mention the significant amount of bureaucracy involved, as many of these animals belong to species that are endangered and therefore require special permits. Many enthusiasts therefore try to circumvent the regulations, says Evžen Korec, the head of Tábor Zoo.
“There are more large wild animals living with private breeders than in zoos, by a disproportionately huge margin. The problem is that many of these private breeders keep the animals in completely unsuitable conditions.”
Although the state has the right to take illegally kept or abused animals away, in practice this often does not happen due to a lack of suitable alternative accommodation for them, says Eva Nemravová, head veterinarian at Tábor Zoo.
“People get wild cats like servals, for example, and keep them in their living room in place of domestic cats. Such animals should, by law, be seized due to the inadequacy of their living conditions and the failure of the owner to provide the necessary permits required to keep them. But there is still the problem of where to put the animals once they are taken away. Because once you have a tiger, for example, that has been raised in isolation, you can't put it in a group with other animals because it hasn’t been socialised, so you need a huge enclosure for it.”
However, this should soon change – Tábor Zoo is currently in the process of building an animal sanctuary for creatures like these that have been rescued from abuse or neglect at the hands of private owners. It will be for animals whose natural habitat is in a temperate climate, says Eva Nemravová.
“There will be shelters to protect them from the wind and rain, but the enclosure won’t be heated, so you can’t put a lion or a fossa there, for example. But it will be ideal for animals such as lynxes, cougars and tigers.”
Co-financed by the State Environment Fund at a cost of around CZK 12.5 million, the rescue centre might even be considered somewhat luxurious, if zoo director Evžen Korec’s description is anything to go by.
"We're building it to be generous. The animals will have their own pool, raised bunk beds, and a comfortable shelter. There will be large areas with state-of-the-art nets that are snow and storm proof."
Construction has already begun and the sanctuary should be ready to start operating in April this year.